Biggest win of the season for Warriors

Callum Watson scores the Warriors fifth goal against Nottingham. Picture by Colin Edwards.
Callum Watson scores the Warriors fifth goal against Nottingham. Picture by Colin Edwards.

LAST time Nottingham visited Hillheads it needed two late Warriors goals to rescue a point in a 3-3 draw but this time the result was never in doubt as Whitley romped to their biggest win of the season.

Both sides were missing key players and as a result the two benches were a little sparsely populated, but that did not stop a Whitley side determined to continue their recent good run ahead of their derby clash with league leaders Billingham Stars this Sunday.

However, for all their domination of the opening session, a short-handed marker from DJ Good in the sixth minute was all they had to show.

Good then added a second at 28.21, but it was a golden spell of three in 55 seconds that ensured the points would be staying on Tyneside.

Callum Watson started the action at 35.48 and just 17 seconds later Dean Holland out-foxed the Nottingham netminder with a thumping shot to his short side, with Watson grabbing his second at 36.43 as the Warriors advanced the score to 5-0; and cue the Hawaii 5 ‘O’ theme tune that has become the tradition at Hillheads when the home side reach that score line.

At times the final session seemed to become a contest between the Warriors and Lions keeper Richard Griffiths, but there was nothing even he could do to prevent them from scoring twice more.

Holland outfoxed him to net the sixth at 56.26 when he dragged the puck back on the post and slotted it between Griffith’s legs, while a shot from the blue line by Nathan Ryder with a little over two minutes remaining, was past the unsighted keeper before he could react.

The Lions are the only side to have beaten Billingham so far this season, so coach Garry Dowd was delighted to get such a resounding victory ahead of this Sunday’s clash.

“Nottingham do blow hot and cold,” he said, “but we were good value for this victory and it certainly gives the Stars something to think about ahead of the game.

“But what pleased me most was our passing. We were short on numbers, but because we passed the puck well, we were able to conserve energy.

“The puck is always the fastest thing on the ice and we have been working hard in training making sure we pass intelligently; and make every one count.”

At times it looked as if the Warriors were on a permanent powerplay, such was their dominance of the game, but they still defended well when it was needed and Dowd was delighted with the all-round play.

“I don’t like to single out individuals, but we scored some well-worked goals,” he continued, “and that was down to hard work on the part of everyone.

“The forwards were always willing to help out at the back, while the defence was keen to link up in the opposition half as well; but that is something we are going to have to do very well next weekend as well.”

The Warriors will have extra bodies in the shape of David Barrett, Harry Harley and Christian Johnson, and Dowd is ready to do battle with the side he served for many years prior to joining Whitley.

“With a short bench we were well beaten down at the Forum, despite being the better side for the first 20 minutes, but now they have to come into our building and if we can keep our form the way it has been for the last four games; there’s no reason why we can’t come away with another win.”

Hillheads looks set for its biggest crowd in quite some time for this first clash between the sides for more than two years and Dowd believes the home fans can have a big say in the outcome.

“It should be a fantastic atmosphere,” he said, “and with the two sets of fans in full voice, it isn’t going to be a night for the faint-hearted; but our supporters have proved to be worthy of an extra man and that could be crucial.”

Tickets are available on the night, priced at adults £7.50, under 16s and concessions £5.50, while a family ticket is available for £22.

The action gets under way at 5pm, with the doors open 30 minutes before face-off.

Ahead of the Billingham clash, the Warriors will be visiting the Children’s Ward of North Tyneside Hospital on Saturday afternoon to distribute presents and sweets that their supporters club have collected over the last few weeks.

“The Whitley fans have responded with their usual generosity,” said a supporters club spokeswoman, “and I know the players enjoy the visits to try and make Christmas more bearable for the kids.”